Romancing the Collector

Choosing the Perfect Antique or Collectible Gift

Vintage Cups and Saucers

What's the first thing that pops into a prospective gift-giver's mind when it comes to selecting an antique or collectible gift? Sounds expensive. Next on the negative list? It's probably too much trouble.

Sure, running out and grabbing a box of chocolates or a bunch of flowers and an ordinary card will do. If your collecting sweetheart truly loves you, the same old gift will suffice. But wouldn't it be nice to really wow them with a gift from the heart this year?

It's not nearly as complicated as you might think, and it doesn't have to be costly either.

Consider the Real Value of a Gift

When’s the last time your beloved said, “I can’t believe you did this!” after your opening a gift? If it’s been way too long, who better to offer advice on shopping for the perfect vintage Valentine’s Day gift than author Nancy Fagan, also known as “Dr. Romance?”

"The cost of something has nothing to do with the real value of a gift. For a person who loves vintage lace doilies or embroidered handkerchiefs, receiving one can be worth its weight in gold. The best kind of gift to give is one you know they would cherish," said Fagan.

Look for Clues to Pick the Perfect Present

But how do you know just what to pick for your someone special? Fagan suggests looking for clues.

"If you're uncertain about the kind of antique to give them, survey what they already own. When you do this, you'll begin to see a 'type' of antique they prefer.

That is the kind they will like the most, therefore, the kind you should buy," Fagan added.

Personality also plays a big part in locating a vintage or collectible gift. If the recipient's taste leans toward feminine or masculine, stick with those aspects. You wouldn't want to give the lace doily collector a vintage fishing lure just because it's old.

If your special someone actually collects fishing tackle, however, then a lure might be a romantic expression in its own special way.

"Just because something is antique does not mean an antique collector will love it. Actually, a person's personality is very distinctly seen in the types of antiques they collect," Fagan added.

Considering Lifestyles for Gift-Giving Alternatives

So you've figured out that the love of your life collects, for instance, antique ice cream scoops. They've got a billion of them and it would be almost impossible to get one that's unique and expressive between now and the special gift-giving occasion coming up. It’s time to give up and head for the store to grab the tried and true box of chocolates, right? Don't take that leap so quickly.

Think about other aspects of his or her personality. Does she drink tea every afternoon? Is he a wine connoisseur in addition to an antiques lover? Does she rarely leave the house without a rhinestone brooch pinned to her lapel? Once you've pinpointed something unique about the love of your life, come up with a great way to incorporate these likes into an antique or collectible gift.

Pop into a local antique mall to purchase a pretty teacup and saucer set in her favorite colors and package them up with a box of her favorite tea. A handsome pair of antique wine glasses and a special bottle of wine could be delightful for him as well. Or, perhaps purchasing a unique vintage brooch and fastening it to a pretty heart-shaped pillow might be just the gift she'll cherish.

Combine Traditional Gifts with Antiques & Collectibles

Still not picking up on any signals? Don't fret. It's okay to consider a more traditional gift, such as candy or flowers, but try to combine it with something from the past to make it more memorable.

"There's something magical about the history of something old and the newness of a traditional gift that add an element of romance when paired as a present," Fagan noted.

Just about any red-blooded chocoholic will appreciate the treats even more when presented in a bon bon dish of the antique variety. Or try putting a simple bouquet of fresh cut flowers in a specially selected vase. And pairing a bottle of her favorite fragrance with a beautiful vintage dresser tray could be ultra chic for the lady in your life.

Incorporate Symbolism Into Your Vintage Gift

"Symbols serve as constant reminders of important meanings," Fagan said. "For instance, every flower has a meaning. If a man finds a vase with a painted yellow tulip (meaning hopeless love) on it, his partner will forever be reminded that he is hopelessly in love with her."

Sounds pretty impressive, doesn't it?

Roses symbolize love and romance, so try taking the teacup suggestion one step further and buy one with an associated motif. Even strawberries have a special meaning, perfect elegance, according to Fagan's book The Complete Idiot's Guide to Romance. Check it out to learn even more about romantic symbols.

Don’t Fall Short on the Delivery

Once you pick out your grand gift, whatever it may be, don't fall short on the delivery. Be sure to appropriately convey why you selected the gift especially for your sweetie.

"A note is always the best way to share a special story with someone because it lets them reread the adventure as often as they'd like. This way, the gift becomes more significant with each reading," Fagan emphasized.

Writing a verse or two explaining the associated meaning of the present will add more than any pre-printed card could ever express. This, coupled with knowing you made a real effort to please your loved one with an out-of-the-ordinary gift, might make this the most romantic Valentine's Day ever. It’s definitely worth a try!

For more gift ideas, read Gifts for the Man in Your Life and Gifts for Wine Lovers.